We are in a housing crisis of epic proportions: rents have spiraled out of control, California now has the highest poverty rate in the country thanks to the cost of housing, and families are being displaced in droves.
But the prevailing supply and demand, “just build” message from opinion leaders on California’s housing crisis has sought to effectively derail us from the hard truth that the market has not responded to the demand of Californian families for affordable homes – not market and luxury homes. We are told a big lie that the solution to our crisis is to get government out of the way and leave it to the free market.
If this strategy worked, places like Las Vegas and Houston would be national leaders in housing all its residents in safe, affordable homes. Instead, both cities have severe shortages of housing affordable to working families and rampant homelessness. Developers build to make a profit, not to provide a social need. Why should our elected officials cater to them by dismantling what few tenant protections we have to be the solution to an affordable housing crisis they cannot solve?
Additionally, the supply and demand message has successfully allowed some of the leading drivers of our housing crisis to evade blame: the rise of Wall Street’s new rental empire. Today, foreclosed homes are being snapped up by real estate speculators and corporate landlords – and being flipped into rentals. The biggest owners of single-family home rentals in California now, are no longer mom-and-pop landlords but, mega real estate corporations like Blackstone and Colony Starwood. This time instead of predatory mortgages, we’re seeing predatory rentals.
This is why families across the state have started to organically organize in their cities for rent control, tenant protections and the repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. This effort has lead to the launch of a new statewide movement called Housing NOW! of families that don’t have the luxury of waiting for the market to do what it has never done before. That’s why today, California residents of Housing NOW are taking action across the state to expose the supply and demand lie, to call for a rent freeze from the worst corporate landlords driving displacement in our communities and for the repeal of Costa Hawkins!
Learn more and get involved at www.housingnowca.org.
James Albert is the Vice President of Administration for the San Bernardino County Young Democrats and Chapter Leader of Inland Empire for Our Revolution